Sending Office: Honorable Joseph P. Kennedy III
Alma Adams, Pete Aguilar, Nanette Diaz Barragan, Karen Bass, Joyce Beatty, Ami Bera, Don Beyer, Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Madeleine Bordallo, Brendan Boyle, Robert Brady, Anthony Brown, Julia Brownley,
Cheri Bustos, Michael Capuano, Salud Carbajal, Tony Cardenas, André Carson, Matt Cartwright, Kathy Castor, Joaquin Castro, Judy Chu, David Cicilline, Katherine Clark, Yvette Clarke, Wm. Lacy Clay, Steve Cohen, Gerald Connolly, John Conyers, Jim Cooper, Luis
Correa, Jim Costa, Joe Courtney, Charlie Crist, Joe Crowley, Elijah Cummings, Susan Davis, Peter DeFazio, Diana DeGette, John Delaney, Rosa DeLauro, Suzan DelBene, Val Butler Demings, Mark DeSaulnier, Ted Deutch, Debbie Dingell, Lloyd Doggett, Michael Doyle,
Keith Ellison, Eliot Engel, Anna Eshoo, Adriano Espaillat, Elizabeth Esty, Dwight Evans, Bill Foster, Lois Frankel, Marcia Fudge, Tulsi Gabbard, Ruben Gallego, John Garamendi, Jimmy Gomez, Vicente Gonzalez, Josh Gottheimer, Raul Grijalva, Luis Gutierrez, Colleen
Hanabusa, Alcee Hastings, Denny Heck, Brian Higgins, Jim Himes, Jared Huffman, Sheila Jackson Lee, Pramila Jayapal, Hakeem Jeffries, Hank Johnson, Marcy Kaptur, Bill Keating, Robin Kelly, Ro Khanna, Ruben Kihuen, Daniel Kildee, Derek Kilmer, Ron Kind, Raja
Krishnamoorthi, Ann Kuster, Conor Lamb, James Langevin, Rick Larsen, John Larson, Brenda Lawrence, Al Lawson, Barbara Lee, Sander Levin, Ted Lieu, David Loebsack, Zoe Lofgren, Alan Lowenthal, Nita Lowey, Ben Ray Lujan, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Stephen Lynch,
Carolyn Maloney, Sean Patrick Maloney, Doris Matsui, Grace Meng, Betty McCollum, Donald McEachin, James McGovern, Jerry McNerney, Gregory Meeks, Joseph Morelle, Seth Moulton, Stephanie Murphy, Jerrold Nadler, Grace Napolitano, Richard Neal, Donald Norcross,
Richard Nolan, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Tom O’Halleran, Beto O’Rourke, Frank Pallone, Jimmy Panetta, Bill Pascrell, Donald Payne, Ed Perlmutter, Scott Peters, Chellie Pingree, Mark Pocan, Jared Polis, David Price, Mike Quigley, Jamie Raskin, Kathleen Rice, Jacky
Rosen, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Raul Ruiz, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Bobby Rush, Tim Ryan, Linda Sanchez, Janice Schakowsky, Adam Schiff, Brad Schneider, Kurt Schrader, David Scott, José Serrano, Carol Shea-Porter, Brad Sherman, Albio Sires, Louise Slaughter,
Adam Smith, Darren Soto, Jackie Speier, Thomas Suozzi, Eric Swalwell, Mark Takano, Bennie Thompson, Mike Thompson, Dina Titus, Paul Tonko, Norma Torres, Niki Tsongas, Nydia Velazquez, Juan Vargas, Filemon Vela, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Maxine Waters, Bonnie
Watson Coleman, Peter Welch, John Yarmuth
Endorsed by: American Civil
Liberties Union (ALCU), Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, Anti-Defamation League, Bend the Arc, Catholics for Choice, Center for American Progress, Center for Reproductive Rights, Congressional Equality Caucus, Disciples Justice Action
Network, Equal Partners in Faith, Equality Federation, Family Equality Council, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), Guttmacher Institute, Hindu American
Foundation, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, NAACP, NARAL, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Council of Jewish Women, National LGBTQ Task Force Action
Fund, National Partnership for Women and Families, National Women’s Law Center, NETWORK, Planned Parenthood, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, Sexuality Information and Education Council of the US (SEICUS), Trevor Project, Unitarian Universalist Association,
Equality California, United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries.
When Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in 1993 with overwhelming bipartisan support, the intent was not to undermine civil rights, but to protect them, especially
for religious minorities. Religion is a protected class under the Civil Rights Act, and the freedom to exercise religious beliefs is constitutionally protected as a fundamental American value.
After the Supreme Court’s 1990 ruling in
Employment Division v. Smith called the free exercise rights of religious minorities into question, Congress passed RFRA to affirm that laws intended for the general good can have unintentional impacts on free exercise, and persons of faith need recourse
and remedy when they do.
There is a difference, however, between exercising religious beliefs and imposing them upon others. Our Constitution fiercely protects the former and expressly prohibits the latter,
but RFRA, sadly, has been used as a tool to do both. Witnesses have cited RFRA to avoid testifying in child labor and abuse cases and religious institutions have argued that worker protections from the National Labor Relations Board are incompatible with
religious liberty. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores made it possible for corporations to rely on RFRA in denying healthcare to their female employees.
With these issues in mind, we invite you to join us as co-sponsors of the Do No Harm Act. This legislation would restore RFRA’s purpose as a protective shield for religious minorities
and free exercise. The bill make clear that RFRA does not preempt laws that protect against discrimination, govern wages and collective bargaining, prohibit child labor and abuse, provide access to health care, govern public accommodations, or require that
goods and services be provided via government contract. These areas of the law protect important civil and legal rights of every American, and they are places where a religious exemption for one results in harm to another.
Religious freedom is an anchoring value of American democracy, but so, too, is equal protection under the law. Both can be honored and upheld by a RFRA that is faithful to its original
intent and to American values. The Do No Harm Act would safeguard the civil rights, religious freedom, and dignity of every American by affirming that one person’s rights count no more or less than another’s. Please contact
Qais Roshan (Kennedy) or
Véronique Pluviose (Scott) if you would like to co-sponsor or have additional questions.
Joseph P. Kennedy III Robert C. “Bobby” Scott
Member of Congress Member of Congress
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0